Sunday, October 23, 2016

Doctor Strange

It's been less than ten years since Marvel Studios kicked off its grand experiment with Iron Man and changed Hollywood forever, and it's interesting to look at the ways the company has both relied on what's worked and pushed its own boundaries since then. The studio's fourteenth (!) movie, Doctor Strange, is, when you break it down, a relatively formulaic origin story, but in many ways its the studio's most daring creation yet. This is the most visually stunning film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while co-writer/director Scott Derrickson leans on familiar beats in the screenplay, it's his stylistic eye that makes the movie leap off of the screen and truly command your attention.

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train is a mysterious, mid-budget thriller aimed squarely at adults — in other words, it's the kind of movie Hollywood rarely makes anymore. While it does suffer from some unintentionally comedic moments, it's otherwise a pretty straightforward adaptation of Paula Hawkins' bestselling novel with its best asset being a standout performance from Emily Blunt.

The Girl on the Train
Director: Tate Taylor
Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Justin Theroux

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Queen of Katwe

Hollywood regularly churns out underdog sports movies, but rarely do modern entries in the genre work as well as Queen of Katwe, a true story that centers on a non-traditional subject (a Ugandan girl) and a non-traditional game (chess). Like this year's Eddie the Eagle (side note: holy crap, Eddie the Eagle came out this year?! I would have pegged it as a 2014 or 2015 film for sure), the film leans heavily on the formulaic aspects of its genre, but it's so enjoyable to watch these actors and these characters, it hardly matters that you know every major beat before it happens.

Queen of Katwe
Director: Mira Nair
Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

As Hollywood continues its obsession with remaking and rebooting classic films, the conversation will continue about the best and worst examples of this phenomenon. John Carpenter's The Thing and David Cronenberg's The Fly are consistently raised as examples of how to do it correctly, while more recent remakes like Total Recall and RoboCop are widely seen as wastes of time that give their predecessors a bad name. Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven falls into the latter camp. It's a soulless retread that not only fails to justify its existence, but fails to excite, inspire, charm, or otherwise elicit any emotion aside from contempt. This may be one of the most tedious action movies I've ever seen.

The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Haley Bennett, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard